Sunday, 12 January 2020

Restored colonial ''Currency building'' (1833), Kolkata, India - declared open on January 11, 2020

Currency Building,  Calcutta. deccanherald.com
Currency Building,  Calcutta  telegraphindia.com
Kolkata city's famous  and iconic land mark  Currency building,  a 3-story structure  built in Italian style, is at last renovated and  the first and second floors of the building's west wing, facing Dalhousie Square  are for the  National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) to run an  exhibition. It is said that all three floors of the western wing across the  Esplanade station of the East-West Metro will ultimately house the exhibition. The  glass roof over the remnants of demolished domes overhead is  a nice piece of work.  In Kolkata, most of the colonial buildings exhibit Gothic style of architecture, but Currency building is an exception  where Italian design was adopted. This pretty old building, steeped in colonial history, was in a dilapidated  state  for more than a decade due to poor upkeep, lack of care by the Govt. authorities. Sheer neglect was the main reason and this is true of countless monuments and heritage structures across India.   One could see the damaged  arches and domes of the building with plaster sticking out that was covered with thick vegetation, an eye-sore in the prime locality of this city.  The building under the care of the  ASI (the Archaeological Survey of India ) was opened on the 11th of January, 2020 by PM Modiji. The heritage and monument lovers are quite upbeat about it  that a fine colonial building that was facing depredation is preserved with care for the posterity.
Currency Building, a Calcutta.bongblogger.com
The conservation and restoration work on this building had been on for a long time as the heritage value should not be affected.  The unique feature is the flat toughened glass ceiling allows sunlight to stream in and keep the view of the domes unhindered.
This building, where once a private bank -
Agra Bank functioned during the colonial period, came up in 1833 and in  1896, the government  took over  it for its currency operations. After India's independence, this building was in use till 1994. Later it was managed by the  Central Public Works Department (CPWD),  which began  pulling down the structure in 1996. The demolition work was quickly stopped  upon  the intervention of
Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and Intach (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage). Soon ASI chipped in and began managing it from 2005. Already three massive central domes had been pulled down without giving any second thought to the historical value of this structure.

Architects and engineers  took special care to conserve the tiles on the walls of the courtyard and   chalked out a suitable plan to restore  the hollow walls on the first and second floors. The ASI tried what is called lime punning to restore the tiles back to old glory instead of  restoring them, which would involve filling the gaps with similar tiles.  It is a time-consuming  and cumbersome work as getting the right tiles plus filling the gap and  matching  old tiles  and color  would be a tough one. The advantage of lime punning is ''it will prevent water from seeping into the inner side of the tiles and restrict further decay," according to   conservation experts. 
Damaged Currency building, Kolkata. verdensteatret.com

Each of the first and second floors of the west  has three rooms and a 40-metre-long hall. Together, the total  area is  12,055 sq ft.
The other great features of this building that housed Reserve Bank of India until 1937 are the  sturdy main cast iron gates, large brick arches and Venetian windows (for air circulation in the building) with intricate designs. The roof is arched with iron joists and the floor is covered with marble and chunar sandstone. Particular attention was paid to preserve the authenticity of the old building  and the renovation was taken up by comparing  old photographs of the building for the details.
 According to one ASI official,'' it had then become a jungle inside the outer walls. A ruin. It took us two years just to clear the debris from the demolition work”.
 https://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2018/05/currency-building-of-kolkata-colonial.html
https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/west-bengal/glass-top-gallery-at-currency-building/cid/1413976
https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/restoring-value-to-the-currency-building/article6880033.ece
http://verdensteatret.com/currency